Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

three shorts #3

February 4, 2017 Leave a comment

1990 Yamaha Pacifica 921 (5848606856).jpg

A little while back, RT fell on a concrete patio and fractured a rib. These things, painful as they are, can focus our energies and get us moving again. They can also drive us a little crazy, which might not be a bad thing, either.

Which brings us to tonight’s set of poems (and by the way, the rib seems to be healing nicely). All poems have an appointment with an anonymous meaning coach, which they may or may not keep. RT isn’t sure about this set, sidetracked, perhaps, by certain siren calls. The coach, in the meantime, taps its fingers loudly, as it should; we don’t want our words to be mish-mash.

The bargain isn’t easily struck. Each poem has its own inner necessity or logic, which is the meaning that it offers. But like the electric guitars that RT was listening to while he composed, such steely structure is offset by shape, color, tuning, and a combination of visual and musical drama. Poems can give little guidance as they emerge, or maybe all that is needed. It’s about what sounds good. And what means something (but what?).


three shorts #3


your fractured rib is;

mind forgotten, tottering.

death laughs; you laugh, gasp.


the boy next door curses—

proud, the cell-phone hum-a-lums

you back. buzz, beer bee!


before you, being

and ere February pass,

your car eyes. fat snow.


© 2017, The Rag Tree


Photo1990 Yamaha Pacifica 921.  Freebird from Madrid, Spain. WikiCmns. CC BY-SA 2.0.


Du Fu, Winding River 1

January 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Introspection has not been much in vogue for, well, the last four or five centuries, at least in the West, anyway. The man of thought has become the man of action, the one who changes the world, makes things better. As we head pell-mell into the post-digital, post-handwritten, robot-manufactured world, the question of just where we might be going should give us pause for thought. Certainly the notion that the very act of thinking could itself alter the world, build its complexity and beauty, and of course its wisdom, would meet with a sceptical response these days. Yet RT suspects that something like this understanding lies close to the heart of Eastern religion and art. This is the world we dream of, the world which heals us and in which we have our true place. It is not magic, but a sense of a broader connection to our surroundings.

Du Fu seems to have started his career as a gifted poet, but one who had not met with profound suffering. The collapse of China in the mid-8th century forced him to flee the capital, and to confront in a basic way his life and the unfolding of history around him. Out of his despair he refashioned the possibilities of Chinese poetry, the Chinese people, and RT would argue, the possibilities of humanity as it today struggles with overwhelming change.

Winding River 1

Du Fu


a last petal falling marks the close of spring;

trees shed their 10,000 tears in contentious winds.

I’ll drink my wine, then, and examine

blossoms lying trampled in the mud.


and yet, in the abandoned riverside pavilion,

kingfishers flash and mate. At the foot

of high tombs in the park, stone unicorns

rest in conjugal silence.


all things live in their joy—

exiled from the palace, I wander,

fame forgotten.


PhotoStatues in the Imperial Tomb of Tang Emperor Gaozong. Zingaro. WikiCmns. CC BY 2.0.

It’s Snowing Particles–Polarity & the Dragons of Grammar

September 13, 2013 Leave a comment



It’s September, the month when by tradition dragons are wont to travel about the world, visiting places that most of us humans would avoid. We might find the poles and the antipodes a rather barren and challenging environment, but no so the gentledrakes of RT’s acquaintance. They love nothing better than a good snowball fight! And never mind a blizzard or two, pouring down particles upon particles; the Dragons of Grammar have found the design and interest of grammatical particles to be subtler than we might think.

You might be forgiven, and you certainly wouldn’t be alone, if you thought that “yes” and “no” are a relatively simple business in English. Well, yes and no.  Modern English settles for just two possible answers to a straightforward inquiry: 1) yes, or 2) no.

Old English, on the other hand, had a subtler system of answering questions: the four-form system. What this means is, that four the sake of clarity, questions were divided into two categories: negative (“Will he not go?) and positive (“Will he go?”). Following this logic,, responses were also divided into negative and positive categories: 1) for negative, yes, he will go or no, he will not go; for positive, yea, he will go or nay, he will not go. Any English-speaker will remember being unsure of how to respond to negative questions: “Will he not go?”; Is the speaker asking whether the person will stay, or is he asking, will the person go? The solution to this quandary over the centuries has apparently been to drop the negative form of questions, to the extent possible (or at least that’s RT’s experience of the problem), but to keep the pair of negative responses. Go figure.

And other languages, among them, French, Danish, and Hungarian, have a three-form system. For instance, French has oui, si, and non.

Meanwhile, returning to this post’s title, a sentence’s polarity simply indicates whether or not a statement affirms (positive) or denies (negative) a statement: positive (“James is here.”) or negative (“James is not here”).

And finally, we turn to the matter of particles. A particle is a part of speech which does not belong to any of the defined categories (for instance, nouns, verbs, articles) but which help convey a speaker’s meaning (examples include “not”and “to”) Particles are never inflected..

The Dragons of Grammar are rolling their eyeballs: if only humans would adopt the precision that exists in their language Dragonish. Keeping with their litigious nature and need for clarity, dragons have an Eight-form system for their responses: Positive: 1) yes, 2) yag (as in “Yes, and you’re being awfully inquisitive today”), 3) yog (as in “I was planning to, but I’m uncertain at the moment.”), 4) yigi (as in “I wasn’t planning to, but you’ve interested me in the possibility.”) and Negative 5) no, 6) noog (as in “No. I’m feeling lousy; don’t ask again.”), 7) negeehi (as in “No. Can’t you see I’m busy?”, and 8) natti :as in “No. Care for an Etruscan Salami?”). RT’s contacts in the DoGs assure him that it’s a snap to learn 8-form. RT has his doubts about their claim: Natti!! But his interlocutor merely replies: “No. Care for a snowball fight?”   RT 

Photograph: Snowball Fight, Montana State University. Author: ZeWrestler. WikiCmns; Public Domain.


Organic Form (Mushroom)

August 12, 2013 6 comments

File:Flickr - Nicholas T - Sulphur Polypore.jpg

flower, brain, coral? In fact, a photograph of the Orange Bracket Fungus. nature at its most creative…RT

Photo: Orange Bracket Fungus; Author: Nicolas A. Tonelli. WikiCmns; CC 2.0 Generic.



The Opera House in the Jungle

March 9, 2013 5 comments

File:Teatro amazonas.jpg


On the subject of mystery and creations, here’s one that RT is dealing with on a personal level: he was born in Brazil and left when he was four years old. He has never been back…but, well, these things have a way of working themselves out.

Here’s one place that RT’s family never got to while in the country. The reason? My mother was pregnant with guess who. Sorry, Mom!!

And what is this magical place? The opera house that money from rubber plantations along the Amazon built: the Teatro Amazonas, completed in 1896 in the center of Manaus, the capital of Amazonas State in Brazil.

Amazonas is large, but extremely sparsely populated: 98 percent of the state is covered by the Amazon Rain Forest. Nonetheless, Manaus is a big city–population 1.8 million–and the opera house is an impressive edifice–it seats 700 and is constructed from bricks made in Europe, French glass, and Italian marble. It is the home of the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra and boasts a full schedule of performances and events.

What a remarkable achievement…   RT


Photo: Teatro Amazonas; user: Pontanegra; WikiCmns; CC 2.5 Generic.


Happy New Year, Mr. Snake!!

February 10, 2013 Leave a comment

it’s the year of a the snake (i’m a rat, myself) 😉 RT

A visual journal.


View original post

Pensive Moment

January 12, 2013 2 comments

it’s nice to be able to still read something in French the first time through (after all these years)…enjoy! RT

Under the Fallen Leaves

Il y a des jours quand je n’ai aucune idée comment réagir aux situations. Je sens un mélancolie profond de ma vie et du monde. J’espère de trouver l’amour un jour, mais c’est pas maintenant. Donc je continue. Je sais je ne peux pas arrêter le souffrance ou le pauvreté. Mais je veux aider. Avec tout de mon cœur je veux aider. Le monde souffre. C’est comme un couteau dans mon âme.
Un jour, je ferai quelque chose qui est beau pour le monde. Je le veux bien.
Mais pour maintenant je vive pour un jour après l’autre.



❤ Moi

View original post

Cultured–What Makes an Artist an Artist

January 3, 2013 3 comments


More depends on the question of culture than is usually imagined. Rather like defining poetry, sorting out who is and is not a cultured individual leads to many answers and intense debate. Everyone wants to be cultured, but since a cultured individual performs no definite task and produces no recognizable product, people often assume that such people simply do not exist. The cultured person is one more fairy tale left over from an earlier and simpler era.

RT’s take on the issue is that some people are cultured. What distinguishes them from others? Here are some of their characteristics:

1) Cultured people are broadly educated. This means something other than being very intelligent or having acquired many academic degrees. The cultured person may not score exceptionally well on standardized tests and may be self-taught. He or she nonetheless has mastered a broad range of subject matter, most often in the humanities, but not necessarily. A hunger for understanding and an ability to grasp implications and the big picture seem to be essential.

2) Cultured people are pursued by certain questions. Like the novelist who is unable to shake off a need to bring his story’s characters to life, a cultured person is defined by certain interests; these interests invariably have social implications. Why do many people today dress with apparent disregard for their appearance? Why are particular races and ethnic groups slighted in the city where I live? Why do people where I live often eat poorly? Research can help answer some of these questions–may be essential to answering them, for that matter–but what lays at the heart of a cultured person’s response to them is the imagination.

3) Cultured people express the role of the imagination within a community. This is what distinguishes them from scholars and intellectuals. They are concerned with questions that affect everyone and that address the functioning of the community as a whole. In other words, they are concerned with culture, the things that tie people together: history, race, religion, language, the common settings of our collective lives. There can be no correct answer to the questions they struggle with, only happiness in the way we live. Not so much in the way a town or city is organized as in the way that people operate outside organizations–in the apparently minor details of address and appearance, of humor and delight in other’s company–these are the moments and places that cultured people enrich.

4) Cultured people have been saved by beauty. A cultured perspective is one aspect of the artist’s epiphany. We tend to look at the products of the artist–the  dance, the drawing, the poem–as their characteristic and best contributions, but it is not in the specific moments of beauty produced, but rather in the search for healing, for the details that give satisfaction and joy, that artists are most important to broader society.

5) Cultured people are essential to a community’s happiness. No job titles or salaries attach to the life of a cultured person. They in fact are often hidden–hidden from the search for safety and power. Nonetheless, cultured people deserve our respect and support. We must strive to find ways to integrate them into our live–they give success beauty and wealth meaning.



Photo: Georgian Door, Dublin. WikiCmns. Public Domain. Source: Thpohl.